Xstrata has commenced contract negotiations with miners at its Sudbury, Ontario-based nickel operations before the 31 January 2010 deadline for contract terminations.

Xstrata spokesman Peter Fuchs said the negotiation process has started for the renewal of the company’s collective agreement.

“Proposals are being exchanged with the Canadian Auto Workers union, which represents mine, mill and smelter workers at the Sudbury operations,” he said.

In Sudbury, Xstrata runs two nickel mines as well as mining and smelting units.

In February this year, Xstrata laid off 686 workers at Sudbury and downsized operations there after a collapse in nickel and copper prices in 2008.